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Samsung claims primary seat in Apple iPhone


Samsung Electronics has added iPhone to a rapidly expanding list of consumer electronics devices from Apple Inc. for which it supplies the primary SoC, AppleInsider has learned.

People familiar with the new Apple handset say the Korean electronics giant will cater to Apple's request for a unified central processing unit, which will serve a dual role in handling the device's application processing and digital media capabilities.

Meanwhile, those same people say wireless IC maker Infineon has also captured a significant piece of iPhone, asserting itself as the primary supplier of both baseband and RF chips. Specific chip models were not identified.

For Samsung, the iPhone win represents its third for an Apple electronics device in less than six months. Last September, the firm was awarded key roles in the second-generation of both the iPod nano and iPod shuffle, for which it supplies the primary SoC and audio decoder chips, respectively.

Samsung's seat in iPhone is also symbolic of an evolving bond and level of trust with the traditionally tight-lipped Apple, whose concerns over intellectual property and commonality reportedly drove it to seek out the electronics maker as a sole supplier of ICs for its small-form-factor electronics devices.

Word of Samsung's part in iPhone arrives on the heels of several contradictory reports from industry executives, who in interviews over the past two weeks have pegged a variety of different firms as the primary chip supplier for the device.

It all started with a spokesperson from Apple Germany, who on the day after iPhone was unveiled told Reuters that the central processing unit was "from Intel." Within hours, Intel vehemently denied the claim, informing the media outlet it was "not providing the silicon inside the iPhone."

A subsequent identification came from an Intel Italy exec, who pinned the chip as an Xscale — an integrated circuit developed by Intel and later sold to Marvell. For one reason or another, all appear to have missed the mark.

The identification of Samsung and Infineon in their respective iPhone roles also corroborates a "Likely iPhone supplier list" compiled by Morgan Stanley analyst Rebecca Runkle several weeks before the device's debut. In it, the analyst added that Marvell would supply the WiFi chip, Sharp the display, and Sony the battery.

In the December report, Runkle also singled out Samsung as the primary supplier of 4-gig and 8-gig NAND flash memory with support from secondary supplier Toshiba.

Of all analysts who weighed in on the iPhone ahead of its introduction, the Morgan Stanley analyst was nearly spot-on in all of her predictions, including its various technical specifications.